Today is the great feast of Saint Cecilia. I am sure that more than a few readers who have been to the Church of Saint Cecilia in the Trastevere district of Rome and have seen where she was put to rest in the Catacombs of Saint Pope Saint Callistus along the Appian Way. Here is the exterior of the Church of Saint Cecilia (we couldn't go in on May 21, 2005, as the church was closed for the lunch break, which lasts three hours, and as our dear Lucy came down with a horrible earache that prompted us to take her to Gesu Bambino Ospitale in Rome):
May 21, 2005
Below pictured is a depiction of Saint Cecilia's body resting in the Catacombs of Pope Saint Callistus as found in Our Lady of the Sun Church, El Mirage, Arizona:
November 21, 2006
The Matins for today's Divine Office provides an account of the life of Saint Cecilia, whose name is read every day in the Canon of Holy Mass:
Cecilia was a Roman maiden of noble birth, trained up from her earliest years in the teaching of the Christian faith, and who by vow consecrated her virginity to God. She was afterwards given in marriage, against her will, to Valerian. On the first night she said to him Valerian! I am under the wardship of an Angel, who keepeth me always a maiden. Therefore do nothing unto me, lest the anger of God should be aroused against thee. Valerian was moved at her words, and dared not to touch her. Also he added even this, that he would believe in Christ, if he could see the Angel. Cecilia answered him that that could not be unless he were first baptized, and for the sake of seeing the Angel he was willing. So she bade him go unto Pope Urban, who was hiding in the sepulchre of the Martyrs on the Appian Way on account of the persecution. And he went unto him and was baptized.
Whence he came back to Cecilia, and found her praying, and the Angel with her, shining from the glory of God. As soon as he had recovered from the shock of wonder and fear, he brought his brother Tiburtius, and Cecilia taught him Christ, and he was baptized by the same Pope Urban, and he also was vouchsafed to see the Angel whom his brother had seen. A little while after, both of them bravely suffered martyrdom under the Praefect Almachius, who then caused Cecilia to be taken, and asked of her, first of all, where was the property of Tiburtius and Valerian?
To him the Virgin answered that all their goods had been given to the poor. Thereupon he was filled with fury, and commanded her to be taken home, and burnt in the bath. She was in that place a day and a night, but the fire had not harmed her. Then was sent the executioner, who gave her three strokes of the axe, and, as he could not cut off her head, left her half-dead. Three days thereafter, upon the 22nd day of November, in the reign of the Emperor Alexander Severus, she winged her flight for heaven, glorified with the two palms of virginity and martyrdom. Her body was buried in the cemetery of Callistus by the aforenamed Pope Urban, who also consecrated a Church in her name in her own house. Her relics were brought into the city by Pope Paschal I, along with those of Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus, and all laid together in the said Church of St Cecilia. (Matins, The Divine Office, Feast of Saint Cecilia.)
Dom Prosper Gueranger's reflection on the life of Saint Cecilia includes a description of the vices of ancient Rome that exist currently right here in the United States of America, which is about to celebrate its annual "thanksgiving day" (Gilbert Keith Chesterton wrote: "The Americans have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England." Gilbert Keith Chesterton, quoted in Father Denis Fahey, The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World, p. 16.):
Caecilia united in her veins the blood of kings with that of Rome's greatest heroes. At the time of the first preaching of the Gospel, more than one ancient patrician family had seen its direct line become extinct. But the adoptions and alliances, which under the Republic had knot more closely the great families by linking them all to the most illustrious among them, formed as it were a common fund of glory, which, even in the days of decline, was passed on intact to the survivors of the aristocracy.
It has now been demonstrated by the undeniable witness of monuments that Christianity from the very beginning took possession of that glory, by adopting its heirs; and that by a wonderful disposition of divine Providence, the founders of the Rome of the Pontiffs were these last representatives of the Republic, thus preserved in order to give to the two phases of Roman history that powerful unity which is the distinguishing note of divine works. Heretofore bound together by the same patriotism, the Cornelii and the AEmilii, alike heirs of the Fabii, the Caecili, Valerii, Sergeii, Furii, Claudii, Pomponii, Plautii, and Acilli, eldest sons of the Gentile Church, strengthened the connections formed during the Republic and firmly established, even in the first and second centuries of Christianity, the new Roman society. In the same centuries, and under the influence of the religion preached by St. Peter and St. Paul, there came to be grated on the ever vigorous trunk of the old aristocracy the best members of the new imperial and consular families, worthy by their truly Roman virtues, practised amid the general depravity, to reinforce the thinned ranks of Rome's founders, and to fill up, without too sudden a transition, the voids made by time in the true patrician houses. Thus was Rome working out her destiny; thus was accomplished the building up of the eternal city being accomplished by the very men who had formerly, by their blood or by their genius, established her strong and mighty on the seven hills.
Caecilia, the lawful representative of the unparalleled aristocracy, the fairest flower of the old stem, was also the last. The second century was passing away, the third, which was to see the empire fall from the hands of Septimus Severus first to the Orientals and then to the barbarians from the banks of the Danube, offered small chance of preservation for the remnants of the ancient nobility. The true Roman society was henceforth at an end; for, save a few individual exceptions, there remained nothing more of Roman but the name: the vain adornment of freedmen and upstarts, who, under the princes worthy of them, indulged their passions at the expense of those around them.
Caecilia therefore appeared at the right moment, personifying with the utmost dignity the society that was about to disappear because its work was accomplished. In her strength and her beauty, adorned with the royal purple of martyrdom, she represents ancient Rome rising proud and glorious to the skies, before the upstart Caesars who, by immolating her in their jealousy, unconsciously executed the divine plan. The blood of kings and heroes, flowing from her triple wound, is the libation of the old nobility to Christ the conqueror, to the Blessed Trinity the Rule of nations it is the final consecration, which reveals in its full extent the sublime vocation of the valiant races called to found the eternal Rome.
But we must not think that to-day's feast is meant to excite us in a merely theoretical and fruitless admiration. The Church recognizes and honours in Saint Caecilia three characteristics, which, united together, distinguish her among all the blessed in heaven, and are a source of grace and an example to men. These three characteristics are, virginity, apostolic zeal, and the super-human courage which enabled her to bear torture and death. Such is the threefold teaching conveyed by this one Christian life.
In an age so blindly abandoned as ours to the worship of the senses, is it not time to protest by the strong lessons of our faith, against a fascination which even the children of the promise can hardly resist? Never since the fall of the Roman Empire have morals, and with them the family and society, been so seriously threatened. For long years literature, the arts, the comforts of life, have had but one aim: to propose physical enjoyment as the only end of man's destiny. Society already counts an immense number of members who live entirely a life of the senses. Alas for the day when it will expect to save itself by relying on their energy! The Roman Empire thus attempted several times to shake off the yoke of invasion: it fell, never to rise again. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year.)
Will the same be written one day of the United States of America?
Dom Prosper Gueranger's description of ancient Rome, especially in the last paragraph quoted above, could be a description of the United States of America as its has degenerated more and more over the decades as a result of its false premises that stem from the heresies of the Protestant Revolt and the anti-Incarnational naturalism of Modernity, so exemplified by Judeo-Masonry.
We can be the leaven in our society that Saint Cecilia was in hers.
We can be the witnesses to Christ the King and to Mary our Immaculate Queen as were Saint Cecilia and her chaste husband Saint Valerian, who did not get to see her Guardian Angel until he converted to the Catholic Faith, and her brother-in-law Saint Tiburtius, and the pope who buried her in the Catacombs of Saint Callistus, Pope Saint Urban I.
We can imitate their heroism in behalf of our true Catholic patriotism, which seeks the conversion of our lands, at a time when the scions of the American civil state, who have shed so much Catholic blood in their own day (continuing the "tradition" that had been inaugurated by their Masonic predecessors), are more than willing to use torture against those whom they deem to be "threats" to national security and civil tranquility.
Today, the Feast of Saint Cecilia, provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon the fact that we are called to exhibit the love of the Holy Faith that was demonstrated by Saint Cecilia throughout her life, especially as she faced and endured her martyrdom.
It may not be God's Holy Will for there to be a Catholic States of America. The world may be too far gone. We do not know this for sure. We cannot give up the battle for Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen. We must live and work and pray for a day when everyone in the midst of the United States of America and the world will be a Catholic, seeing in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the only true Thanksgiving (the world Eucharist means Thanksgiving, of course) on the face of this earth. Then and only then will a national day of Thanksgiving be properly oriented as an expression of gratitude of an entire nation of men living under the sweet, gentle yoke of Christ the King that liberates them from an enslavement to sin and selfishness and all of the various falsehoods that emanate from the devil and lead souls directly to Hell.
Oh, sure, we can Catholicize the secular thanksgiving day today as best we can as long as we do not extol nationalist, naturalist mythologies and as long as we understand that we must be grateful for being given the gift of the true Faith that will enable us to plant a few seeds for the restoration of the Catholic City.
More importantly, however, we must celebrate with true joy the liturgical feasts on the calendar of the Catholic Church, making these coming days of holiday from work by learning more about the cloud of witnesses in Heaven who led lives of ordinary sanctity and/or extraordinary courage in the face of martyrdom to work out their salvation in fear and in trembling.
We have a true horn-of-plenty of feasts coming up within the next week prior to the start of Advent (Pope Saint Clement I tomorrow, November 23, Saint John of the Cross and Saint Chrsogonus, November 24, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, November 25, Saint Sylvester the Abbot and Saint Peter of Alexandria and Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, November 26, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, November 27, and Saint Catherine Laboure, November 28. Oh, we have so much to be grateful for as Catholics, do we not?
There are two particular feasts coming up, however, that should warm the hearts of Catholics in the United States and throughout all of the Americas.
The first is the the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on December 8, a Holy Day of Obligation and the Patronal Feast of the United States of America since 1847.
The second, of course, is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12.
We should celebrate these feasts with great joy, begging Our Lady, who is our Immaculate Queen and the Mediatrix of All Graces, to shower us with graces so that we can be stalwart and valiant champions of the Social Kingship of her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We will spend all eternity giving thanks to the Blessed Trinity in her Queenly presence if we die in a state of Sanctifying Grace. Isn't it a marvelous expression of our Catholic Faith to organize public expressions of our love for Our King and Queen who set us free from all of the enslavements of the world, the flesh and the devil.
We must, therefore, reject each and every call to exalt in a false sense of civil liberty as so many are doing this day and every day. We must look to the only standard of true liberty, the Holy Cross, and to lift it high as we keep Our Lady company at Its foot each day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered by true bishops and priests in the catacombs where no concessions are made to conciliarism or to the nonexistent "legitimacy" of its false shepherds, praying as many Rosaries each day as our state-in-life permits.
Indeed, Pope Leo XIII cogently summarize the meaning of true liberty in Libertas Praestantissimum, June 20, 1888:
5. Liberty, then, as We have said, belongs only to those who have the gift of reason or intelligence. Considered as to its nature, it is the faculty of choosing means fitted for the end proposed, for he is master of his actions who can choose one thing out of many. Now, since everything chosen as a means is viewed as good or useful, and since good, as such, is the proper object of our desire, it follows that freedom of choice is a property of the will, or, rather, is identical with the will in so far as it has in its action the faculty of choice. But the will cannot proceed to act until it is enlightened by the knowledge possessed by the intellect. In other words, the good wished by the will is necessarily good in so far as it is known by the intellect; and this the more, because in all voluntary acts choice is subsequent to a judgment upon the truth of the good presented, declaring to which good preference should be given. No sensible man can doubt that judgment is an act of reason, not of the will. The end, or object, both of the rational will and of its liberty is that good only which is in conformity with reason. (Pope Leo XIII, Libertas Praestantissimum, June 20, 1888.)
God has given us the gift of liberty to choose the end He has fitted for us, namely, the possession of the glory of the Beatific Vision of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost for all eternity in Heaven. We attain to this end by begging Our Lady to send us the graces necessary to adhere to all that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has revealed to us through His Catholic Church as well as all that exists in the very nature of things (the Natural Law).
This is not the concept of liberty that is celebrated by most Americans as they live licentiously in accord with the prevailing ethos of relativism, materialism and hedonisim. We, though, are called to use our freedom as Saints Cecilia, Valerian and Tiburtius did, namely, to be willing to suffering everything, including martyrdom itself, to bear witness to Christ the King and His Holy Catholic Church in the midst of an unbelieving world.
We must pray for the day when all men will give thanksgiving to the God Father through the God the Son in Spirit and in Truth, offering their Rosaries in a chorus of love and jubilation, as they explain with hearts consecrated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary:
Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us now and the hour of our deaths. Amen.
All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, pray for us.